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tv   The Rachel Maddow Show  MSNBC  July 9, 2014 1:00am-2:01am PDT

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may be a path forward on a whole range of drugs in our society. former congressman patrick kennedy. and dr. carl hart. thank you gentlemen both. i appreciate it. that is "all in." "the rachel maddow show" starts now. good evening, rachel. good evening, chris. thanks, my friend. we've got wendy davis, democratic candidate for texas governor, here tonight for the interview. i hope you will stick around for that. but we start with this. second terms are tough for american presidents. in bill clinton's second term, he got impeached. in richard nixon's second term, he was about to get impeached and then he had to resign the presidency. ronald reagan's second term he had to come up with the "i don't remember anything" answer to make the iran contra scandal go away. although 14 members of his administration got indicted in that scandal including his defense secretary and two of his national security advisers. and in george w. bush's second term, it was clear very early on in that second term that that second term for him, like most other modern presidents, was
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also not going to be a walk in the park. and there was this great snapshot, this great moment in time less than one week after george w. bush was inaugurated for his second term where president bush was just having a brutal, brutal press conference. it was a press conference that telegraphed a lot of the things that were going to make his second term a really hard time for him. a lot of questions were about iraq. this was january 2005. things were absolutely terrible and about to get worse and he had already said we'd won that war a long time ago. the president said he wanted to spend all the political capital he accrued by winning the election by convincing the country that we ought to privatize social security. he was going to convince america that that was a great idea. that went over about as well as as you would expect. so at the moment of this press conference, president bush is not even sworn in a week yet for his second term but he's getting really tough questions about iraq, really tough questions about privatizing social
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security and he also at that press conference had to face this array of super embarrassing, super direct questions about his administration getting caught buying off the media. do you remember this? paying reporters to write positive columns and stories about the administration. that really happened. president bush had to admit it to the white house press corps that that had happened. and that it was a bad thing. he promised it wouldn't happen again. but then in that moment, at that terrible press conference for him where she's answering questions about that, it turned out that there were actually two terrible things happening at once. in terms of this odd relationship between the conservative media and republican politics. there was the thing they were talking about overtly in terms of paying for good press coverage, but then there was also the hooker thing. all happening at the same time. we did not know about the hooker thing at the time that this
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press conference happened, but it just makes this moment so incredible when you look back at it. take a -- we'll show you the clip here. take a very close look at the guy who throws president bush the softball question at the end of this clip to try to rescue the president, essentially, when this press conference was getting to be really tough on him. >> mr. president, do you think it's a proper use of government funds to pay commentators to promote your policies? >> no. >> are you ordering that there be an end to that practice? >> yes, i am. i expect my cabinet secretaries to make sure that that practice doesn't go forward. there needs it be independence, and mr. armstrong williams admitted he made a mistake. >> mr. williams made a mistake. did the department of education -- >> yes. they did. all our cabinet secretaries must realize that we will not be paying, you know, commentators to advance our agenda. our agenda ought to be able to stand on its own two feet. i'm confident you'll be over the course of the next four years
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willing to give our different policies an objective look. won't you? yes. i can see that. yes, sir? >> thank you. senate democratic leaders have painted a very bleak picture of the u.s. economy, harry reid was talking about soup lines and hillary clinton was talking about the economy being on the verge of collapse. yet in the same breath, they say that social security is rock solid and there's no crisis there. how are you going to work -- you've said you're going to reach out to these people. how are you going to work with people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality? >> the -- continue to speak to the american people. >> actually harry reid and hillary clinton hadn't said anything like that. rush limbaugh said they had said those things. but this guy quoted rush limbaugh to the president, said how are you going to work with these people who seem to have divorced themselves from reality? and boy, was president bush relieved to get that question. he smiles in the middle of the question. and that man who asked that
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softball question of the president sort of rescuing him at this point in his press conference, that handsome man it turns out the man who asked that president that question of president george w. bush, he represented a website called talon news. ever heard of talon news? that's okay. it's a project of something called gop usa and the george w. bush white house had accredited that news source with a white house press pass and had put that specific reporter on the lists of reporters for the president to call on at press briefings. but their accredited reporter, there in the briefing room, from whom president bush must have been so relieved to get that rescue me question, that guy was actually a hooker. that was jeff gannon of talon news and jeff gannon of gopusa.org. he was jeff gannon of jeffgannon.com. he was also jeff gannon of hotmilitarystud.com and
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militaryescortsm4m.com. his name wasn't really jeff gannon. but that was his handsome bald head which president bush liked to touch sometimes from the photographic evidence. and he apparently was paid roughly in the order of $200 an hour for the naked services that he provided at hotmilitarystud.com. those, of course, are separate and distinct from the journalistic services that he provided in the white house briefing room. being a hooker, itself, isn't that much of a scandal. all right? it's called the oldest profession for a reason. but the interaction of high-level politics, high-level politicians and hookers, that can be a very awkward thing. i mean, the white house press office accrediting a hooker from a conservative media website as if that guy were a reporter, right? that was a legitimate scandal for the george w. bush administration. one of the earliest in what would turn out to be a very bumpy second term for that presidency.
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but do yourself a favor the next time you're stranded somewhere and got some battery life left on your personal electronic device, just for fun when you have a minute, google "prostitute washington scandal." some combination of those three words. it's important to include the word "scandal" or you'll get a different set of results. that's an amazing history. i mean, randomly pick a jurisdiction out of the air, pick a time period. we've had a lot of these. pick a city in the news right now. murrieta, california, where the vurulent anti-immigration protests have been going. screaming at buses full of unaccompanied immigrant kids in government buses screaming at the kids about how they're diseased and they're not welcome here in this country and nobody wants them. usa! usa! murrieta, california, has been showing a rather rough face to
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the world as these protests have gone on over the last couple of weeks, but you know what, google them a different way and find out murrieta's congressman, local representative in washington, is one of congress' hooker guys. first elected to congress in 1992, ken calvert in 1994 narrowly avoided getting criminally charged after police found him with a known prostitute in his car one night. he later admitted to the "l.a. times" what happened. this was the headline. "scandal imperils young political career after months of denial, riverside congressman admits sexual relations with a known prostitute." "i was feeling intensely lonely" he says. now he is feeling intensely incumbent because that happened in 1994 but murrieta, california, sent ken calvert to congress ten times since then. on the democratic side, beloved liberal congressman barney frank also survived his own special variety of hooker scandal. before congressman frank came out as gay, his then-secret boyfriend in washington turned out to be running a gay prostitution ring out of barney frank's apartment.
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not so much as it was his secret boyfriend's prostitution ring he says he didn't know about, but still massachusetts elected him for another 13 terms before he retired last year with a reputation that could not have been more positive. democratic new york governor eliot spitzer, he chose to resign his office after he admitted to repeatedly patronizing prostitutes in what turned out to be many some very nice washington, d.c., hotels including other locations. he resigned as new york governor then tried a comeback. ran for new york city comptroller. the comeback failed. he lost. in the space of three weeks in 1976, there were two separate amazing congressional hooker scandals. democratic congressman named allan howe of utah, charges of soliciting two policewomen posing as prostitutes. he lost his seat in congress. may 23rd, 1976, the "washington post" ran an interview with the young woman, elizabeth ray, saying she was employed as
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secretary for the administration committee in the u.s. house of representatives. headed by congressman wayne hays of ohio. she said she was the secretary for the house administration committee despite the fact that, "i can't type, i can't file, i can't even answer the phone." she said the main responsibility of her $14,000 a year job was to have sex with congressman wayne hays, the chairman of the committee. that one was kind of like prostitution by taxpayer funded payroll. that one we were all johns, sort of. the "washington post" printed "i can't even answer the phone" quote from the secretary in may of that year. that congressman resigned his leadership positions on june 3rd and by the end of summer that year, he was out of congress altogether. so hooker scandals sometimes
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cost members of congress their jobs, but not always. the best federal elected official hooker scandal we have had in a really long time, though, remains the hooker scandal that belongs to serving united states senator david vitter of louisiana. having run for office on the basis of his strong family values, using his wife and his kids in his campaign ads in order to proclaim his moral fitness as a family man for the job of being a -- when he was outed, senator vitter refused to resign but he did make his wife stand next to him at the press conference where he confessed to his serious sin and talked about how much he had been paying for sex. david vitter confessed to serious hooker sins but found his friends in the republican party to be very forgiving. none of the other republicans in the senate said that senator vitter should resign.
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bobby jindal said he forgave senator vitter for the hooker thing. chairman of the state republican party in louisiana said, "i think if nothing else comes out and this is all there is, then three weeks from now this will all be behind him." so this serving u.s. senator, family values conservative republican senator, confesses to a long history of patronizing prostitutes both in washington and louisiana and the republican party says, it's kind of okay with us, we forgive him, let's move on, let's put this behind us. he definitely should not resign. at the time that senator vitter's hooker scandal came to light, it should be noted that louisiana's governor was a democrat. kathleen blanco. so had republican senator david vitter resigned over the hooker scandal, the democratic governor of the state would have been able to pick his replacement in the senate so he probably would have been taken out of the senate and replaced with a democrat. so david vitter definitely shouldn't resign. this hooker thing, it's okay, it's just not that big a deal, everybody should get over it.
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this year, this spring in louisiana, another family values conservative republican, congressman from louisiana named vance mcallister, he was caught on tape making out with one of his own congressional staffers who was not his wife. she, in fact, was somebody else's wife. now, nobody is a hooker in this circumstance and they're not shtupping in the hallway. they're just kissing. the reaction to that was like night and day compared to david vitter. the same bobby jindal who forgave david vitter immediately for hookers said that vance mcallister in contrast, he had to resign, he had to go. he called vance mcallister an embarrassment. that exact same republican party chairman in louisiana, the same guy who said david vitter's hooker problem would just go away if we stopped talking about it, this would all be behind him in a few weeks, that same republican party chair in louisiana said that the guy who just got caught kissing one of his staffers with no hookers involved at all, he says that that guy has to resign. mr. mcallister's extreme
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hypocrisy is an example of why ordinary people are fed up with politics. a breach can only be rectified by an immediate resolution. he embarrassed our party, our state, and the institution of congress." but david vitter with the hookers, that's okay. he didn't say that last part, it was just implied when the man said the word "hypocrisy" and the giant asterisk appeared in your mind. see, david vitter had he resigned would have been replaced by a democrat. vance mcallister represents a safe republican seat, so it's okay to grandstand about morals when it comes to him. it won't have any partisan consequences so he's got to go. david vitter's got to stay. hooker scandals are about as rare in american politics as hot days in july. we have a lot of them. but just because we have them all the time, we have them even in the white house briefing room, it doesn't mean that they're ever anything but awkward. hooker scandals are awkward in politics.
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but here, perhaps, is the mother of them all. when the david vitter hooker scandal broke in 2007, one of the tv shows here on this network on msnbc was hosted by a nice guy, tucker carlson, still in his bow tie days. the show was called "the situation with tucker carlson." that's when i was on it, succession of terribly incredible shirts and haircuts. stopped being "the situation with tucker carlson" and started being "tucker." when the david vitter story broke, tucker carlson like every republican in the senate and republican officials in louisiana decided that senator -- they decided that senator david vitter's history with hookers wasn't a big deal, right? nothing we should bother the senator about. tucker made the case that frankly when it comes to patronizing hookers, that's barely even illegal. >> more ridiculous, it's not even the democrats who are doing it, it's the press, it's us, it's the media. after humiliating david vitter, putting his wife's picture on television, as many of us have which is almost indefensible, in my opinion, because she didn't do anything, guy's got four kids.
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we've helped destroy his life. publicized this thing he did. now we're in the press attacking him for not showing his face in public. >> whoa, whoa, wait a minute. wait a minute. this guy lied for years about this. okay? >> lied about going to hookers? supposed to tell the truth? what the hell are you talking about? >> lied about going to a hooker. may i point out something out? this is against the law, a felony. the question is not is he going to resign -- >> i don't believe it's a felony. >> the real question is, is he going to be charged with breaking the law? prostitution is against the law in new orleans and even washington, d.c. >> it's against the law in the sense that double parking is against the law. >> tucker -- >> let's be real here. >> ask the -- >> in new orleans? ever been to a restaurant in new orleans? one out of three women is for sale. come on. you know, i wish david vitter were a democrat. i wish he were a liberal democrat. i wish he were russian feingold because then i would defend him every bit as zealously as i'm defending not what david vitter did but his right to be unbothered by the rest of us for something that's none of our business.
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>> listen. senator wants to go see a hooker, come on. one out of every three women in your average louisiana restaurant is for sale. it's like double parking. who among us has not paid a hooker for sex while serving in the united states senate? can't these people solicit hookers in peace without us bothering them? and embarrassing them? so mr. carlson, that's when he was here on msnbc. he made a big point of how it is no big deal to see a hooker if you are a u.s. senator. and he said he felt that way not just because david vitter was a republican senator when he was seeing hookers, he said he would feel that way even about democratic senators seeing hookers. in fact, he wished david vitter was a democratic senator so he could make that point more clearly. it's none of our business about senators and hookers. and the reason why it matters what somebody said about this on msnbc in 2007 when the david vitter hooker scandal broke open
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is because mr. carlson, who, again, i have to say is a very nice guy, went on to found a conservative media outlet called "the daily caller" right before the election in 2012 broke the news, what they said was a news story about a democratic senator, oh my god, paying for hookers. it was just days before the 2012 election senator bob menendez of new jersey was up for re-election and mr. carlson's own publication ran what they described as a scoop. complete with the two obscured face video interviews with women who they said had been paid for senator menendez to have sex with him. so much for not caring about hooker scandals, right? this one was a democrat. so much for that. mr. carlson's website ran with it big. they pushed the story hard enough that it was picked up as a tucker carlson scoop all over the fox news channel. multiple shows on that channel. and lots of fox news channel's radio shows, too. again, this was days before the 2012 election. it also got tons of online traffic from the conservative mega website the "drudge report." as a result of the allegations, the fbi sent investigators to
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the dominican republic, alleged site of the senator's alleged hookering to investigate those charges. but a funny thing happened on the way to that conservative media scoop. bob menendez did survive the last-minute onslaught of allegations before the election. s he re-elected in november. it emerged lots and lots of news networks had been shopped this story about menendez and hookers. politico looked into it, did not think it was credible to publish. the "star ledger" in new jersey had, shopped that story. looked into it, found it not credible enough to publish. the "new york post" which i'm sorry is not known for its high standards of what it will or will not publish, the "new york post" was shopped that story about senator menendez. they found it not credible enough to publish. the ethics watchdog group "crew"
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in washington, d.c., said they'd been contacted by a tipster who called himself pete williams, not to be confused with nbc's pete williams presumably. they'd been contacted by a tipster who tried to shop them this story about bob menendez and prostitutes and wanted "crew" to be an ethics expose. they called the abc investigative unit to look into the story to verify the claims from the tipster. abc news like all these other networks looked into it and found the story was not credible enough to report or broadcast or publish in any way. but tucker carlson was very happy to do it. and so because he did it, then fox news did it, and then the "drudge report" did it and even as the fbi left the dominican republic empty handed apparently like all of those real news organizations did on this story, when nobody was able to corroborate it, the right wing media stuck with it. they never walked it back. and that is where it would have ended. just circling the drain of jeff gannon, white house briefing room hooker, and armstrong williams paid to write favorable stories about the administration, the new black panther party, and michelle
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obama said whitey, and the president is secretly kenyan and hillary clinton killed vince foster and all the rest of this bullpucky invented by and for the conservative media who's happy to tell each other for years this stuff is news and not just stuff they made up. the real media and frankly the politicians who have to swim in that sewer have to worry about this parallel track of paranoid fake information that traffics as news on the american political right but that is disproven everyone else outside their echo chamber. the bob menendez story nobody could verify outside the right wing echo chamber would have circled the drain along with the rest of all that stuff if there was not the lingering question of who started the story in the first place? this pete williams who contacted "crew" and all these other media organizations trying to shop this story which then nobody responsible could corroborate. who started it? where did it come from? who was out there pushing so hard for all these different
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outlets to look into this story before they could find one lax enough or craven enough to actually run with it? well, this story broke last night in the "washington post." "according to a former u.s. official with firsthand knowledge of government intelligence, the cia obtained credible information including internet protocol addresses linking cuban agents to the prostitution claims and efforts to plant the story in u.s. and latin american media. the intelligence report provided to u.s. government officials and sent to the fbi's counterintelligence division." it is one thing for us to domestically be inventing this stuff for ourselves, right? it's another thing for this weird fake channel in our supposed news media to allegedly, at least, become a conveyor belt for foreign countries' disinformation about
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u.s. government officials. and we don't know yet if the cuba allegation of this is true. the "washington post" citing an unnamed former official in what they say is an intelligence report blaming cuban intelligence for having started this smear. nbc news tonight says they have talked to multiple officials at multiple agencies who have found no credible evidence of cuban involvement. so we still don't know. senator menendez for his part answered questions about the "washington post" reporting today. he said he wants the department of justice to investigate it. he says he is chasing down what he called -- he says he wants the u.s. government chasing down what he called the serious allegation that a foreign country may have used an intelligence operation to try to alter the results of a federal election in this country, which by the way determined who would be the next chair of the senate foreign relations committee, which is something that would matter to any foreign government including cuba. so he's saying that his priorities that the u.s. government should investigate this and find out if we need to take it up with cuba. if we find out that that was the source. and if that was the source, then maybe so. we will see what the justice department does in terms of their response. for the rest of us, there's another part of accountability
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that has nothing to do with foreign relations and intelligence but our own intelligence of the nation, about a conservative movement that's spent a full generation telling people, telling americans to not trust the actual news and to instead invent their own conservative version of that, and they did that. this is where it got us. and apparently, at least, cuba maybe appears to be delighted with the results. just a reminder we've got s? a good night's sleep... and aveeno®. [ female announcer ] only aveeno® positively radiant face moisturizer has an active naturals® total soy formula... one of nature's most effective skin tone correctors. it helps reduce the look of brown spots in just four weeks. and for stubborn spots, there's new aveeno® targeted tone corrector, with vitamin a added for faster results. [ jennifer aniston ] aveeno®. naturally beautiful results™.
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just a reminder we've got wendy davis from texas coming up as the interview tonight later on in the show. please stay with us for that.
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when president obama won the presidential election in 2008, one of the surprises was that he was able to pull off a win in north carolina. north carolina had not been won by a democrat in a presidential election since 1976. and when you look at how north carolina was voting, even in the 2008 election, it seemed like an impossible thing for a democrat to win. i mean, north carolina voters 65 and over were voting republican. voters 45 to 64 were voting republican. voters 30 to 44 were voting republican. there's no way a democrat can win in that state when that's the age group voting, right? oh, that's how the democrats won. 18-29. were it not for young voters, voters in their teens and 20s, there's no chance that any democrat could win in the state of north carolina. and when the election was even closer in 2012, the democratic candidate, again, mr. obama, he was not able to pull it off in that state.
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even though, again, it was young voters who made it even competitive at all in the state. without young voters voting in large numbers, democrats would never have a chance there. since that election, the state of north carolina has rolled back early voting. it has eliminated same-day voter registration. it has passed voter i.d. law in which you are not allowed to vote unless you submit official state-issued i.d. but that official state-issued i.d. cannot include a student i.d. even if the institution that issued that student i.d. is a state college. they started shutting down on-campus voting sites like the one at democratic-leaning appalachian state in western north carolina where the republican-controlled local election board in the county there moved voting off campus and on to a local site where there's no bus stop anywhere nearby and pa 35 parking spaces. one republican-led elections board tried to rule this young man was ineligible to run for congress because he attended the historically black college in elizabeth city. ineligible to run for office because he was a student, and wouldn't you know it, the eligibility rules for running for office are the same as the eligibility rules for vote.
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so the local republican chairman took a brief stab at trying to get all college students in north carolina ruled ineligible to vote in the state. this has not been a subtle couple of years in north carolina. perhaps the most amazing one is when the republican state legislature decided to get rid of a civics program in north carolina high schools. in which high school seniors who were about to turn 18, they could submit their voter registration forms ahead of time. so when they did turn 18, they'd be ready to vote. it's nice, right? civics. get involved. prepare for the responsibilities of citizenship and adulthood. register to vote. north carolina republicans in the legislature killed that program in the high schools. without ever offering any explanation for why it had to die. they killed it as part of an omnibus make voting harder bill they were able to pass into law not because there was a republican takeover of state government in north carolina which there was, but also because the supreme court last summer gutted the voting rights act.
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the court struck down the part of the voting rights act which says that certain states and counties that have a history of racially discriminated voting restrictions, they need to get any changes to their voting procedures pre checked by the justice department to make sure those changes aren't discriminatory. big parts of north carolina were covered by the preclearance sections of the voting rights act, but when the supreme court struck down that portion of the act, north carolina republicans pounced and they radically moved to restrict voting in the state. because they finally could. now, though, something really interesting is happening. because even though we no longer have the part of the voting rights act that makes states have to get clearance to know that their voting changes aren't going to be discriminatory, we do still have the part of the voting rights act that says the justice department can sue a state after the fact. so once the state has already implemented discriminatory voting changes, then the federal government afterwards can sue that state because of the discriminatory effect of those changes. and the big test of that
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surviving remnant of the voting rights act, the big test of whether or not the voting rights act at least in that small way can still work, whether it can be used to stop a state from restricting voting in ways that are discriminatory, that test is happening right now. this week in north carolina. because the federal government and a host of civil rights agencies are suing the state of north carolina over what it has done to voting rights in the last year. and this is a big deal for beleaguered north carolina, but it also because of the voting rights act, this is potentially a big deal for the whole country. joining us from the north carolina courthouse where the hearing took place, donita judge, one of the groups joining the justice department in this suit against the state of north carolina. miss judge, thanks very much for being with us tonight. >> thank you. it's good to see you again, rachel. >> you, too. so, i know today's hearing was the first step in a big test for the voting rights act. your organization arguing this with others alongside the justice department. how do you think it went today and yesterday in the courtroom?
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>> well, i think it went extremely well. today we had several very compelling witnesses. we started out today with rosanelle eaton, our 93-year-old plaintiff who really talked about when she registered to vote in the 1940s how she had to recite the u.s. preamble to the constitution. she talked about the fact her ancestors were unable to register and vote, and that's why she felt it was important to register close to 4,000, 5,000 people before she stopped counting. we also have one of the next next legislatures talk about how really this law was so abnormal the entire process and really how it just broke the relationships that we're building between the bipartisan general assembly. and then we had, today we had reverend hawkins who really talked about, you know, the impact in his church and souls to the polls that it used by african-americans to register to vote.
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the transportation issues that really require the churches to get involved and really be a vessel to help these communities to register and vote. so we have had what we believe certainly have been several, a couple very good days and we're marching forward and we're looking forward tomorrow to hearing our experts put on what we believe is really exceptional evidence that this law was passed within -- it was intentionally passed to disproportionately impact and affect african-americans in this state. >> i understand this is essentially the pretrial phase, a full trial set for the coming year, and the pretrial, correct me if i'm wrong, it would block these new laws from taking effect for the next election, the midterm election coming up this november. what do you expect to happen in terms of the way these different things are going to go into effect in terms of what happens next and when the important decisions are going to be made? >> well, our -- we brought a preliminary injunction, and our
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goal is to prohibit these laws from being in effect in the november 2014 election, and really to have the same laws that were in effect in 2012 as well as 2008, to have those laws still in place. the reason that we asked for a july date is because we believe strongly that we are going to be successful and we want the state to have the time that they need to revert back to the laws that were in place and to have time to train -- to make sure the poll workers and everyone who's involved in this process really understands and know how to administer these laws so that they will not continue to disproportionately impact voters of color, students, and others. >> donita judge, staff attorney for the advancement project, joining us from the federal courthouse tonight in north carolina. thank you so much. please keep us in the loop as this proceeds over these next few days. thank you. >> we certainly will.
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>> i appreciate it. that case in north carolina is so important for the overall existence of the voting rights act. nothing is happening in congress. nothing is happening in congress to bring the voting rights act back. despite all of that noise that was made after that devastating supreme court decision last summer. nothing is happening to bring it back in congress. the only part of it that survives is being tested right now in north carolina, and boy does it matter for that state, but boy does it matter for the whole country. all right. much more to come tonight. stay with us.
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just ahead on the interview tonight, i'm very happy to say my guest is the woman who wants to be the first democrat elected governor in texas in two decades. she is wendy davis. we've got lots to talk about. that's coming up. ♪ yeah, girl ♪ you know, i've been thinking about us ♪ ♪ and, uh, i just can't fight it anymore ♪ ♪ it's bundle time ♪ bundle ♪ mm, feel those savings, baby and that's how a home and auto bundle is made. better he learns it here than on the streets. the miracle of bundling --
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now, that's progressive.
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on last night's show, we reported on this from the great state of texas. this is from the "dallas morning news." greg abbott steps in it on chemicals issue. greg abbott is texas' republican candidate for governor this year. he's currently the attorney general in the state. earlier this year it turns out, which was just about a year after this huge and fatal explosion at an ammonium nitrate fertilizer plant in texas which killed 15 people and injured more than 200 people, almost exactly a year after that explosion, texas attorney general greg abbott declared that the state of texas would to longer tell the public where large quantities of explosive chemicals are stored in that state. for decades, that information had been public information in texas, but not anymore. may, greg abbott's office issued a ruling saying state agencies must start with holding that information from the public. that's the only significant change in rules or policies or
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laws in texas, since unsafe storage of chemicals set off that apocalypse in that little town of west, texas, last year. the only thing the state government has changed since then is greg abbott saying the state will no longer tell texas families if they're living next door to something like this. greg abbott issued that rule in may but did so quietly and the press in texas is starting to pick up on it. greg abbott was asked about it by reporters in austin on tuesday. it did not go well. >> you know where they are. if you drive around. if you're living in west, texas, you know that there's some facility there and you have the right to ask the people in west, texas, hey, what chemicals do you have in there? >> just drive around. you can figure it out. after that, we got the "dallas morning news" editorial "abbott steps in it on chemicals issue." this is the ft. worth "star telegram" calling him off base. "greg abbott's comments about
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disclosure of where dangerous chemicals are stored in the state are as explosive as a bin of ammonium nitrate. he made comments that were insulting and not befitting a candidate for governor." drive around, you figure it out. on paper, at least, there are a lot of things that could give democrats a chance in the red, red state of texas in this year of all years. one obviously is latino voters. about 38% of texas is latino and growing. and now that demographic growth in texas is being matched by an effort by democrats to find and register and mobilize those eligible latino voters. it's also the case that this year the democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, leticia van de putte, both latina and popular in the community. that brings up the second thing that could conceivably give democrats a shot this year in texas. he is the republican candidate for lieutenant governor in texas, his name is dan patrick.
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he's a right wing talk radio host thought to be so out there even for texas that he might have a voter-repellent effect on the whole republican ticket the way people thought sarah palin did for the republican ticket in 2008. there's the latino voters and that potential. that's one issue. there's dan patrick as potential kryptonite on the ballot. that's a second issue. the third issue that could give democrats a shot is this new issue that just emerged when greg abbott decided a year after that fertilizer plant explosion killed 15 people next to a texas middle school that the law should be changed in texas to stop disclosing the storage location of dangerous chemicals in texas neighborhoods. that's the third issue. that's the new one. but then there's also this new crisis on the border. a legitimate policy and humanitarian crisis on the border and one that is happening in texas more than it is happening anywhere else on the southern edge of our country. the thing is, politically republicans in texas used to have a reputation for being
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comparatively pragmatic, even compassionate on the issue of immigration. frankly, you have to be that way in texas. texas is 38% latino. but texas republicans don't have that pragmatic streak anymore. not this generation of red texas. i mean, dan patrick's whole campaign is about stopping the illegal invasion of texas by mexico. i mean, now texas republican rhetoric tends more toward texas needing to secede from the united states. the texas republican response to unaccompanied kids coming to border from central america is conspiracy theories the governor is voicing on tv about how president obama has arranged this crisis on purpose. he sent the kids because, because benghazi or something. i don't know. there's a legitimate policy and humanitarian crisis on the border particularly in texas, but the texas republican political response so far has just been to go full talk radio on the issue. so is that part of the potential
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this year for texas democrats? i mean, amid all these other opportunities that they've got this year among all years, can democrats distinguish themselves as having more to offer, practically, on this issue than the "set themselves on fire spinning their wheels hysteria" that it has generated on the right? hold that thought. [[[jçj)yq [ male announcer ] don't just visit miami.
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he's obviously doing everything he can to try to undo a mess that he has made.
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but let's make no mistake about it, what greg abbott has ruled is that families do not deserve to know where these dangerous chemicals are stored. and there's absolutely no excuse for that. >> joining us now for the interview tonight is the democratic candidate for governor for texas, wendy davis. thank you very much for being with us tonight. >> thank you, rachel. >> so why do you think that greg abbott is wrong on this chemicals decision and what would you do differently? >> well, there's no mistaking that he's wrong, and as you said earlier, for decades in texas, it's been our practice to comply with the law that president reagan helped to shepherd through the community right to know act, because parents deserve to know whether they are living or their children are going to school or their parents might be in a nursing home that's next to one of these facilities that stores dangerous
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chemicals. and there's simply no excuse for suddenly reversing course in what the state has done for decades in compliance with that law, and hiding that information from parents across the state. >> is this one of -- >> as governor -- >> let me just interrupt you there for a second. is this one of those issues where i'm looking at this from new york and you're in texas and there's some weird idealogical rift about this story that i can't see? there's some mysterious republican idealogical attitude that makes them opposed to something like that? do you know what's drive thing change? >> yeah, i think when you look at what drove the change with abbott, you need look no further than the campaign contributions that he's received from the koch brothers, who have at least one of these facilities that stores these dangerous chemicals in the state of texas. >> what would you do differently as governor? >> as governor, and as i laid out today in a couple of press
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conferences that i've held, i will call for an emergency item to be placed on the legislative calendar, so that this issue can immediately be taken up and addressed by the texas legislature before the typical 60-day period of time that it takes for legislation to be considered. and for the legislature to act in a way that gives true meaning once again to the community right to know act, and empowers texas families with information to help keep their families safe and to make decisions about where they'll live and where they'll put their children in school, to give our school districts the ability to decide where to build their schools, where hospitals should be built, where nursing homes should be built so we can assure as much as possible that communities across the state are safe. >> texas governor rick perry recently said that, in terms of the border crisis in texas and along the southern border of the
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united states, he thinks there is a conspiracy behind it. he thinks it's on purpose. tomorrow he's meeting with president obama on the issue. i know you've called on the governor to call a state of emergency on the border. why do you want that? what would that do? >> it is a term of art essentially in texas, which allows the release of resources to help the local communities that are bearing the burden and the cost of taking care of this influx of people from across the border. i've asked for a special session that would hear from our local communities, from first responders, from charitable organizations who are on the ground and who are taking care primarily of these children who are unaccompanied minors and who have been coming in literally by the hundreds every single day, under the care of many incredible people doing amazing work, but who need to have the cost for that care covered. ultimately, it's the federal government's responsibility, and not only have i called on governor perry, asking for a special session to be called so that we can deal with this at the state level and do our part in helping our local communities, but that ultimately the federal government do its
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job, and that it reimburse us for those costs. i was very pleased to hear president obama call today for $3.7 billion to be brought to these border communities. our border patrol officers, so that they can do their job and assure that drug smugglers and human traffickers are the real focus of our border patrol officers, as they should be. and that -- the government should also, of course, make sure we're doing what we can to, as i said, help reimburse these local communities for the costs that they're bearing.
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>> texas state senator wendy davis, thank you very much for being with us tonight. i know you're very busy. >> thank you.
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good wednesday morning, everybody. right now on "first look" -- air strikes continued overnight between israel and gaza, disrupting a wedding in israel and killing dozens of palestinians. we have the latest details. storms are responsible for at least five deaths since last night. is more severe weather headed your way? president obama faces the child immigration problem head on today, but not before he hits a colorado bar and is offered some pot. plus, george clooney takes on the media, claiming outright family lies. also, germany demolishing brazil in world cup. and a man almost loses an arm to a crock. hello, everybody. thanksor
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